A photographer’s dream is not always easy to reach. Despite the effort made to plan everything carefully, maximizing the chances to find out the best spot and time to see a natural wonder, there is one more point to take in account: Mother Nature is always unpredictable.
Chasing Northern Lights is one of these photographers’ dream. Northerners say it is a gift to see those lights.
Therefore, this was the purpose of our expedition to Tromsø, in the upper part of Norway. It is located well inside the Arctic circle, so we had to come prepared. During summer daylight is 24/7 and during winter there is no daylight at all, barely a couple of hours of nautical twilight, all the rest is darkness. The perfect time to sleep if you need to relax, or if you want to chase the magical lights.
Tromsø itself is the third largest city in the Arctic circle and the biggest part of the city lies on an island. Climate here is not so strict thanks to the Gulf current which prevent the city to fall well under the -10°C mark. However, Arctic wind and snow storms are really common here.
Tromsø is also home of few really interesting pieces of Arctic Architecture, such as the Polaria Acquarium:
the Arctic Cathedral:
and the library:
Wandering in Tromsø is an experience itself. Be prepared to walk on ice and to get really awesome reindeer steaks (for quite some money).
What did we do in order to maximize our chase? We went out two nights in a row searching for them.
The first night was a mushing experience with Active Tromso: those guys taught us about dog mushing and how to drive a sledge. That was super fun, but the best part was that the guide we had was Italian, coming from our city: Ararad! His story is really interesting and you can read more here.
Unfortunately, during this tour, the weather was really cloudy and snowing, so we didn’t manage to see anything. But we didn’t lose hope. We still had one night.
The second night we went out for a proper chase with the guys from Creative Vacations. Vidar was really nice and he drove us till an unspecified point between Sweden and Finland, where we managed to find clear skies. And there it was.
Just a glimpse, only a short one-minute sight, but we saw it. Unfortunately there was not much time before it disappeared and we didn’t manage to get out the camera equipment in that moment. But we decided to wait: 4h in the arctic winter, with a -12 temperature, in our arctic suit, searching the sky.
Nothing. Only arctic blue sky.
That glimpse was definitely a gift. So we left and then Vidar drove us 3h back home. We arrived at 5am really tired, a bit disappointed but hey, this is Nature and (luckily) we don’t have control on it.
So the story is: if you are really searching for the Northern Lights, if you don’t see them, no worries, and just try again next time. Mother Nature is well known to give a lot of gifts to eyes that are looking for them.
Next time will come from the Lapland side. For the moment, just lay back and relax.